Remember how back before the season, the big question seemed to be whether or not the Iowa basketball team would be able to make the NCAA tournament? That seems like a long time ago now.
It doesn’t seem to be matter of if the Hawkeyes will make the Big Dance. They already have 15 wins with 13 games to go in the Big Ten season. Barring an absolute, total collapse, they’re in. It’s almost inconceivable now that they won’t be. If they even just go 5-8 the rest of the way, they would be 20-11 heading into the Big Ten tournament.
The question now has become: Where will they be seeded?
ESPN bracketologist Joe Lunardi, whose projections have been pretty accurate in recent years, listed Iowa as a No. 7 seed in the NCAA tournament before the season even began, then elevated the Hawkeyes to a No. 6 for several weeks and upped them to a No. 4 last week. Lunardi’s next bracket will come out Thursday but if he did it right now, they’d almost certainly be a No. 3 seed. Five teams that were seeded higher than them – Wisconsin, Villanova, Oklahoma State, Ohio State and Iowa State – have lost at least once since that bracket came out.
If Iowa beats Michigan on Wednesday night, it definitely will be a No. 3 this week. If it beats Northwestern on Saturday and Michigan State next Tuesday, Lunardi will almost certainly bump the Hawkeyes to a No. 2 in his weekly projections.
There’s still a very long way to go obviously. But these games with Michigan and Michigan State in the next week will have a huge impact on where the Hawkeyes end up in the real bracket that comes out on March 16. They really would need to do a lot of work to get to the No. 1 line -- like win every game the rest of the way -- but a No. 2 or No. 3 are within reach if they continue to play the way they have lately.
It’s something even the most optimistic Iowa fans probably didn’t envision as a possibility before the season began. But it’s within reach, especially if they can knock off the two Michigan schools in the coming week